Bible Reading Plan – August 6-12
Bible Project Reading Plan (August 6-12):
Malachi 1-4, 1 Chronicles 1-24, Psalm 63-69
Patience is a virtue and a spiritual gift, but it can only be grown through suffering. You must suffer through having to be patient in order to gain patience. In this, it is not unlike other virtues; for those who are not, being nice when anger feels better is a trial; for those who move by impulses, exercising self-control seems debilitating and constricting. While many of these might seem like chores to those who lack them, patience is the most difficult, I’d guess, if only because it is the most universally lacked. Living in an age when guilt and innocence are decided on public media, outside of facts, where instant communication means instant decision making, where our appetites for almost anything can be met within minutes (before they are riled again), patience is a lost virtue, and for many an unneeded one.
Malachi knows the problem, even in a culture that moved exponentially slower than ours. Many in Malachi’s day, as in ours, wonder why God doesn’t act sooner; why his justice seems to fail and the evil in our world, at times, flourishes. Such problems are not changed by our technological advances. God doesn’t care about our processor speeds, or how quickly we can cry for justice on social media. He moves at his own pace, and exhibits patience and justice when he in his good time is ready to do so.
The people of Malachi’s day, though, didn’t see God acting in his good time as a thing to be cherished, but rather as a thing to discourage their faith. In Malachi’s third chapter, God brings yet another charge against them:
“Your words against me are harsh,” says the LORD. Yet you ask, “What have we spoken against you?” You have said: “It is useless to serve God. What have we gained by keeping his requirements and walking mournfully before the LORD of Armies? So now we consider the arrogant to be fortunate. Not only do those who commit wickedness prosper, they even test God and escape.”
Malachi 3:13-15 (CSB17)
The people, in looking around at the disaster and violence of the world, wonder what is truly gained by listening to the Lord. “The wicked make good lives for themselves”, they say, “so they are fortunate!” God is either uncaring about the wicked, or to feeble to do anything about it.
But God promises that this will not always be the case. For those who fear the Lord, who wait on him, he will once again show the difference between the righteous and the wicked (3:18), for those who serve him will be his (3:17). The coming day will sort all of this out: the wicked will suffer, while the righteous will endure. God declares:
“For look, the day is coming, burning like a furnace, when all the arrogant and everyone who commits wickedness will become stubble. The coming day will consume them,” says the LORD of Armies, “not leaving them root or branches. But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings, and you will go out and playfully jump like calves from the stall. You will trample the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day I am preparing,” says the LORD of Armies.
Malachi 4:1-3 (CSB17)
Do not trust what your eyes see; trust the words that the Lord speaks, friends. The wicked may prosper for a while, but God’s justice will not sleep forever. As Peter rightly instructs us, the Lord tarries so that the wicked might know repentance (2 Pet 3:9). Put up, endure, and be patient with the wickedness of the world. In doing so you show love, as God grants repentance to those who might otherwise only know fire.
But don’t lose heart: Justice will come, riding on a white horse, to settle the accounts of the world. He is faithful, and he is true (Rev 19:11-16).